Exploring Second Life as a beneficial virtual learning environment
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With the growth of the internet comes the development of virtual worlds which create a perfect setting for meeting new people from around the world, chatting to existing friends and learning. Second Life is a virtual world which launched to the public in 2003 it is created entirely by its residents and hence provides a perfect setting for learning. This study explores the nature of the internet in particularly Second Life and how it can aid education. Studies on self-esteem and the internet have shown that due to the level of anonymity people are more willing to express themselves more honestly over the internet (Ellison, Heino, & Gibbs, 2006), introverted students tend to contribute more to classes online that face to face classes (Downing, and Tat Mei Chim, 2004). Even though confidence is not a good predictor of academic achievement, being more relaxed and comfortable with no fear of pre conceptions is a beneficial atmosphere in which to learn. An online survey and a set of email interviews were used to collect the data for this study. The survey measured confidence levels by using a set of situations that were thought to need a high level of confidence; participants rated their confidence in each of this situation in both real life and Second Life. The e-mail interviews gathered information of Second Life tutorials and educational experience from students within a distance learning programme which uses Second Life as part of the course. The results yielded some interesting responses and trends, however due to the surveys low response rate it is not possible to generalise on the findings, the interviews and Second Life discussion boards displayed that Second Life is a vibrant fun atmosphere in which to learn. Despite its software issue Second Life does provide a new, fun and creative atmosphere in which to learn. Even though the study has many limitations it still uncovered some interesting results which are worth following up in future research.